Have you ever bought a foundation and gotten it home to find that without the fluorescent department store lighting it just makes you look completely grey, washed out or ruddy? Choosing the perfect foundation to compliment your complexion can be a challenge, unless you understand your undertone.
We are all born with our unique skin tone and believe it or not we usually pop out completely one colour all over! Now most babies look pink but that's because in infancy our skin is more transparent so the colour from our muscles, veins etc. shows through more. But we do all in fact have a single undertone.
In the beauty world we tend to generalize undertones as being either warm or cool. Cool undertones tend to have a pink base to them whereas warm undertones may be more yellow, olive or golden. You can be anywhere on the spectrum, for example I am incredibly pale so I am often mistaken for being cool toned because more redness and under eye discolouration can show through my skin. I am actually warm with a yellow-olive base. Hard to match? You bet!
PRO TIP: The majority of the population have warm undertones, being cool is quite rare!
To give you a sense of which colours fit where, I found this great infographic on thebeautydepartment.com
Determining your undertone is the first step to ensure you choose the right makeup colours that will accentuate your natural beauty. If you're still not sure, here's a few ways to find out which undertone you have:
Have a look at the colour of the veins in your wrist under natural light, if they are more green you are a warm, if they are more blue you are cool. We all technically have bluish veins, but on someone with a more yellow-based undertone veins will appear more green because blue + yellow = green.
Tie back your hair and put on a pure white top or hold a white towel up to your face. You will be able to see the true colours in your skin more clearly against the white. If your skin looks great and you don't see any pronounced shadows you are most likely warm; if you look dull or sallow and feel you look better in an off white or cream colour you are probably cool.
Test out with jewellery. Typically your skin will look more true or vibrant in the opposite of your skin tone. As silver is a cool colour it will make a warm skin tone pop and vice versa. Keep in mind that doesn't mean you cant wear both!
Do you tan or burn in the sun? If you tan you're most likely warm whereas people with a cool undertone tend to be more sensitive to sunlight and burn more easily.
Still not sure? Another good way to check is the colour of your skin just above your collarbone or on the back of your neck. Women don’t tend to get as much discolouration here because of our hair so you can usually see the true undertone of your skin here.
These are the colours on the surface of our skin that can change over time, sometimes temporarily and sometimes they increase through age. They are usually due to sun exposure but can include a range of pigmentation issues like: suntan, sunburn, freckles, fake tan, redness, broken capillaries, sun damage, hyper/hypo-pigmentation, acne, dark circles, bruising or bad shadows caused by ageing.
We wear foundation to cover surface tones and create a naturally flawless coverage of our natural undertone.
This is why makeup artists may use coloured primers or correctors underneath your foundation, it's all to bring your skin back to it's true undertone and help make it look as flawless as possible.